Learning Takes Place Where This Is Structure

As an instructor who’s job it is to educate people, I focus on creating the best atmosphere to ensure learning has taken place. One of the most difficult tasks when you consider the variables in play from a single class.

Service Forward

I love my job. I woke up the other day and for the first time a unique thought entered my mind. I realized I get to help people improve their lives. And, I get to do it doing something I really enjoy. On top of that, I find that by doing so I also help safeguard our way of life for future generations. That is a lot to process and while those thoughts have circulated in my head before, not in one congruent thought until then. I consider it a great privilege and weighty responsibility. My goal is to move the needle for everyone I come into contact with both in class and abroad. The key to instructing is learning taking place is structure.

The Key To Structure

As humans, we crave structure. For those of us with military experience, it is a lifestyle for sure. I’m grateful for my military career for providing me with an understanding of why structure is so important. In our classes I try to set the tone early and often about the importance of structure. Here are the the three main take aways that any instructor must be able to master. I am still in the process of mastering, but I have learned a lot over the last two decades of teaching. It all starts with your curriculum, then your delivery and ends with your assessment.

Don’t Waiste Their Time

When it comes to curriculum, you cannot just wing it. You have to have clearly defined goals for what you hope to achieve. These goals will become your objectives. Those objectives will further define what and how you teach. By having this level of structure it allows you to value one of the most important commodities; your student’s time. You have limited time to achieve your goal. Wasting it because you are not organized, have not properly prepared or dont fully grasp the material you are trying to teach equals wasiting your student’s time. While every student will have different goals themselves, if they did their homework and are honest with themselves then they are in the right class at the right time. I’m constantly aiming to achieve perfection in my curriculum’s organization. I will adjust, amend and alter with the specific purpose of improving the overall experience for the students.

Being An Effective Instructor Is The Goal

Deliverying your prepared currcilum is as much an art as it is science. Learning how adults learn is crucial to be an effective instructor. Anyone can call themselves an instructor. Very few can call themselves and effective instructor. Part of your effectiveness is in managing expectations. Providing guidance and objectives to help your students achieve the buy-in needed for learning to take place. These expectations don’t just center on safety, but also etiquite. In the beginning of class I try to explain what I expect from each student. Not just from the learning side, but how to govern themsevlves. How best they can take advantage of the material by explaining how I intend on deliverying the material. How they should pay attention and seek clarification when necessary. Then how best to manage their own training as well as assist with everything from marking targets to cleaning up brass. It is the details that make a difference, when the class works as a team, deliverying the material becomes easier.

The Ground They Walk On

At some point you need to be able to provide feedback to your students. Sometimes that comes at the end of the class in the form of a score. While I do this in all of our classes, it is but one form of feedback. The student will experience both individual an group feedback constantly. At times I will provide the student with the means to evaluate their own performance. For example, I might say I want a minimum of one miss on this drill, or faster than the prescribed par time or to achieve a score of whatever or higher. Giving this information to the student allows the student to take ownership of their own training. That is where the real magic happens, that is where learning has taken place.

I consider myself a work in progress as an instructor. My goal is to be able to help each student achieve their goals and ensure learning has taken place.

2 thoughts on “Learning Has Taken Place

  1. Ed Bonawitz says:

    Jeff, great post once again. I appreciate that your advice this week isn’t just applicable to firearms but rather is broadly useful across any instructed topic. You are truly fortunate to have a career with an salient impact that you also love.

    I have been in classes where the agenda (curriculum) was weak or ill prepared and it always led to lost or wasted time and less effective instruction. This was a really good point.

    You mentioned offering feedback in the form of score and intermittently throughout the class. I would imagine that constructive feedback of deficiencies is easier to apply and convey than positive reinforcement. My question is : do you have a method or advice on the application of these? (constructive feedback and positive reinforcement)


    • Jeff Gonzales says:

      Hi Ed,

      I don’t think I fully understand your question. Through out training, we are constantly trying to focus the student’s attention on the good performance. To concentrate on what they are doing right, in an effort to replicate that on a consistent basis. The outcome is a repeatable performance that tends to shore up other issues. Hope that helps.

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